Description of the Eiffel Tower in 1900


Description of the Eiffel Tower in 1900

The text below was written by George Barral in 1900. It describes the ascent of the Eiffel Tower and uses it to make a fairly accurate description of the tower. This description is quite different from the one we can currently do (see here), we learn for example that the arrival on the first floor gives the feeling of being in a city, whereas nowadays the space of this floor is very open, on the contrary. There is also the description of the staircase which climbed to the 3rd floor as well as that of the successive platforms of the summit.

The Eiffel Tower in 1900

Seventeen hundred and ninety-two marches (predestined number, recalling the date of the most beautiful victories of the Revolution: Valmy and Jemmapes and the expulsion of the Prussian armies from the French territory) separate the soil of the Eiflel Tower from its extreme summit, where is a small platform that can hold ten people, having exactly feet placed 300 meters away from the Champ de Mars, which itself is 33m50 above sea level. where the rod of the lightning rod and the flagpole are fixed at 300 meters.

The duration of a complete ascent lasts six minutes taking the elevators but it takes about forty-five minutes to get to the top by the side stairs. Here is the summary of the landmarks of the Eiffel Tower:

  • The first floor platform is 60 meters above the ground. Its outer circumference is a huge square 70m69 side, enclosing 5,000 meters superficial. This first floor has two levels: that of restaurants, balconies and terraces, and that of galleries, which is down a meter. This difference is rational and ingenious; it allows gallery visitors to circulate without obstructing the view of restaurant guests. Twelve staircases put these two plans in communica¬tion. As soon as you enter this first floor, you have the feeling of entering a city. As you walk on the terrace that stretches out in front of you, you arrive in front of a gaping opening, and you plunge as if in the depths of an abyss where everything appears in shortcomings: men and things. The cellars and kitchens of the restaurants are in the basement at 5 meters below the floor and 55 meters in the air, above the Champ de Mars. In about seven minutes, you can climb the 360 ​​steps one meter wide stairs first floor. These stairs, made in piles, are very soft, cut by many levels. It is believed to rise three times in a row on the fifth floor of a house in Paris.
  • The second platform is 115 meters from the ground, and 55 meters from the first floor. The stairs that serve to achieve this are helical, without bearings, much steeper than the previous ones. They have 370 steps. It takes seven to eight minutes to climb them. They can give passage to 2,000 people per hour. The floor on which we arrive is divided into four rooms, intended for shops and separated by corridors. It has a surface of 1,400 meters. The walkway has a width of 2m60 and is 150 meters long. During the World Fair of 1889, on the part facing Paris, the installation of the newspaper Le Figaro was set up, with printing, editorial office and salons.
  • The third platform is 217 meters from the ground and 102 meters from the second platform. It affects the shape of a covered table; it is furnished with movable frames that are closed by the strong winds and from which we can see the horizon through the windows.
  • The fourth platform is 273 meters from the ground and 56 meters from the third platform. From the second platform at this point a staircase was built in the middle of the Tower. It turns in a spiral and has 1,062 steps; which, with the 360 ​​steps on the first floor and the 370 steps on the second floor, is the 1,792 steps you had to go through, if you disdained the elevators. At this point, you can assume that you have climbed the ninety-second floor of a colossal house. The public is not going higher. The rest of the Tower is reserved for science and for Mr. Eiffel. At 7 meters above this platform, that is to say 280 meters, overlook large interlocking beams and four iron arches in the form of a campanile, that is to say, of a bell (in Latin campana). The ceiling of the fourth platform serves as the floor for a large circular hall shared, by partitions, in rooms devoted to scientific laboratories and the private office of Mr. Eiffel. The octagonal balcony that surrounds this room, located 280 meters above the ground, is used for the small railway on which the electric lights are moving. This balcony has 10m90 on large faces and 3m96 on small.
  • The fifth platform is 280 meters from the ground, 7 meters from the fourth platform and 10 meters from the scientific laboratories. It is reached by a winding staircase which encircles the central axis. The floor of this fifth platform is 5m75 wide. At this elevation, we are at the level of the electric light. It is 6m78 high and 3 meters in diameter. It is fixed, colored, first-rate.
  • The extreme summit of the final iron cap is 20 meters above the fifth platform, and exactly 300 meters above the ground. It is surmounted by a lightning rod connected to all the metallic mass and charged to provide the flow, in the ground, of the electric waves of the ambient atmosphere.


To reach the 273 meters height granted to the public, one does not have to use one's legs, because one can use a whole elevator system. From the base to the top, there are three kinds, of which here is the nomenclature:

1° The Roux, Combaluzier and Lepape system, articulated piston, like an endless chain, carried by a large pulley; the two-stage cabin, fixed on one of the chain's strands, is constantly supported by a piston which pushes it, no fall is possible. This hydraulic lift system works in the East and West pillars and stops at the first platform.

2° The American Otis system, with a hydraulic piston actuating a huge muffle whose guarantor passes over return pulleys, placed from distance to distance up to the top of the second floor and back down to cling to the cabin. As a result, for a displacement of 1 meter from the piston of the cylinder of 11 meters, placed in the foot of the Tower, the double cabin goes up or down 12 meters. The counterweight moves while driving under the elevator path. The cables that support the cab are six, two of which are connected to the counterweight and four belong to the system of the pulleys pulleys. They are made of steel wire. Only one of these cables would suffice to carry, without breaking, cabin and travelers. In addition, there is added a safety brake. The counterweight is also equipped with a safety device, its fall is impossible. The Otis lift is adopted in the North and South Pillars, and elevates visitors to the second floor with a stop at the first.

3° From the second floor to the upper platform, below the campanile, the lift is from the Edoux system. It provides a race of 160 meters; it is the first time that an engineer has had to carry out such a considerable work; Mr. Edoux has been very successful in solving the problem. The most powerful one had been installed in 1878, in one of the towers of Trocadero, where it still works; its height is 63 meters, and it is also Mr. Léon Edoux who built it. The 160-meter race is cut in half by an intermediate platform located exactly 200 meters away, which is the real starting point for the Edoux lift, hydraulic and vertical. The operation is very easy and the general layout does honor to its manufacturer. One of the cabins is arranged at the end of a piston, which carries the transport from the intermediate floor to the top, ie 80 meters. It is connected by cables to a second cabin that forms against¬weight, and flows between the second floor and the intermediate floor, 80 meters in the opposite direction. From the upper part of the first cabin and the two ends of the rudder, start four cables which, passing on pulleys placed at the top of the Tower, support the second cabin. Two of the cables attach to a rudder in the middle of which is suspended this cabin, the other two cables are fixed to the body of the cabin itself.

When the upper cabin rises, the inner-cab, which serves as a counterweight, goes down naturally. It follows that to travel the 160-meter route, there is a station at the intermediate floor, as in a railway. Each cabin traveling halfway, there is interchange of travelers on the intermediate floor, without any clutter, the "amounts" pass through a door other than the "descendants", without loss of time either. A safety brake (Backmann system) makes it possible to answer absolutely any accident and to affirm that, even in the cases of rupture of an important organ of the elevator, the visitors, carried by the cabin, would have to dread no fall. The duration of a complete ascent, from the foot to the top of the Eiffel Tower, by means of the elevators, is barely 7 minutes.

All the elevators are served by four multi-tubular boilers of the Collet et Cie system, 80 meters of heating surface and 3 meters of grid surface, each stamped at 12 kilograms and developing together, per hour, 6,000 kilograms of steam. dry at maximum pressure, installed in the foundations of the South Pillar.

Number of visitors at the same time on the Eiffel Tower

This elevator raises 3,000 people per hour on the first and second floors, and 800 at the top. Via the stairs and lifts, 5,000 people can climb the Eiflel Tower, and the length of stay is not limited. The number of people that can hold the Tower, when it receives its maximum of visitors, is distributed as follows:

  • Each of the restaurants on the first floor, 400, for the four: 1,600
  • Around 1,000 can move on each of the four outer galleries: 4,000
  • Between the restaurants, there are interior galleries containing together: 400
  • Total for the first floor: 6,000
  • 1500 on the second floor and 500 on the summit, together: 2000
  • People on the rise, plus people on duty: 2,000
  • Or, when the Eiffel Tower is crowded with visitors, a total of about 10,000

10,000 people in this iron lace! A city in a ship mast. To all these technical details, to all these figures, it is necessary to give life, by describing the sensations that one experiences successively during the duration of a complete ascent of the Tower. We can do no better than to borrow the terms from a writer of the greatest merit, who knows how to combine with a talent of superior pen, an exquisite sensibility. It is to the author of the beautiful book entitled Les Larrons, a work of social pity, an eloquent plea for the disinherited, the most beautiful and the most moved, composed since Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, to M. Hugues Le Roux, that we took the following story:

See also: Famous visitors.

The Eiffel Tower by Victor Hugo

Some people have been wearing ear caps and stuffed gloves. It seems that the hats of high form offer, in the wind, an unfortunate catch; on the other hand, the cold of irons causes, in the long run, a burning burn. We enter the pillar on the right, where opens one of the stairs. The 350 steps that lead to the first platform (60 meters above the ground) are gentle to climb. Mr. Eiffel advises to imitate his approach. He climbs very slowly, his right arm to the ramp. He swings the body from one hip to the other. He takes advantage of this momentum to cross each degree. The slope is so inclined that it can be caused while climbing, and it does not blow into the landing of the first floor.

Four pavilions rise here to give shelter to restaurants, brasseries, bars, cabarets. The cellars are placed there and 58 meters in space. Around mealtime, this terrace can accommodate 4,200 people, the population of a small town. On one side the windows of these establishments open on the wide square of emptiness that enclose inside the four pillars of the Tower. They frame in a stereoscope light the landscape that is down below. At this height, Paris already takes the immobility of a panorama. Life and movement cease to sight. The silhouettes of passers-by and cars make small ink stains in the streets, very black, very sharp. They have the frozen appearance of crowds crowding, horses that stop in the drawings around department stores of novelties. Alone, the Seine still lives by the moist running on the silty face. The impression is a canvas inflated by a gust of wind.

Above the platform, one can engage in the small spiral staircase, a staircase of hune, where the public does not enter. To escape the dizziness of this circular ascent, one searches the landscape through the entanglement of the crosses of Saint-André whose Tower is built. One has the surprising sensation at each turn of the screw of the rapid rise of the horizon. The Trocadero goes down. It no longer exceeds the geometric line of the tip of its lightning conductors. The dark masses of the Bois de Boulogne, brightened by the fresh stain of Longchamps' lawns, enter the corner of Paris, pushing the town towards the East. Through a crack in the floor, I look at the abyss. This cup is vertical. The thrill comes from the possible fall. It climbs you from the back to the neck. Arrived at the platform of 217 meters, my legs are a little soft. Dizziness ? No. The fatigue, the wind's astonishment, and also the surprise of this well-known aeronaut's impression: space. It is really at this height that we enter the void.

The four members of the Tower, substantially closer, give this platform the appearance of a balloon basket. The air, the light, assail you at the four cardinal points. We have for the first time the sensation of suspension, of isolation. It's always the northern landscape that attracts the most, because the landmarks are easier to elect. In the perspective, Mont-Valérien descended under the horizon, the Trocadero under the Bois de Boulogne, the peninsula of Gennevilliers appears, here is Saint-Denis, here is the Seine which makes its lace between these heights and these lowerings. We can count its meanders, as on a map: one, two, three, four. On the left, the hills of Meudon have collapsed. Over their shoulders, we see three rows of nipples that fog, in the gradual distance tinted in decrescendo of pale gray. On the right, Montmartre enters like a ship's spur in the side of the Parisian galley. At his feet, the houses are more and more clear, perhaps because we see four of their faces, that pierce the windows, symmetrical as dice to play, although these heights Paris looks of a large part of Biribi played by a giant on a green carpet.

The light will end and the day is sad. But it seems that we have already seen from this platform sunsets worthy of ecstasy; even in days of white mists, when Paris wore on its roofs a wadding ceiling, the Radiant Tower in the sun saw its shadow profile on the clouds. When night comes, shadows descend on the city. Darkness drowns the neighborhoods, then it submerges everything. It looks like the swallowing of Ys, the fabulous, descending to the bottom of the sea with its rumor of men and bells The wind that breaks, weeps with human sobs in these three hundred meters of iron, stretched from the ground to clouds, like a wind harp

The conclusion of George Barral

These impressions are the ones we feel, that I felt personally. An essential point to note is that we do not feel dizzy on the Eiffel Tower, because we are like hanging in space in its huge iron trellis. It is not the emptiness and immensity that produce this painful twirling, but the point of comparison that can be made of the elevated place where we are with the earthly point we are aiming for. Thus the flight of stones, when we look at the pavement of the summit of the towers of Notre-Dame in Paris, brings sudden or slow vertigo to many people who in the Eiffel Tower do not experience any elevation. In fact, one finds oneself there, as well as in the basket of a balloon, as isolated, without attachment to the atmosphere, invaded by an indefinite well-being, without any tendency to the slightest dizziness. Just as in an aerostat, the life and movement of the earth are extinguished at a certain height, but not at the same point and no longer in the same way.

On the Eiffel Tower, the sounds of the city soon are no longer distinct, because of his own life and his personal murmurs, while in balloon, the sounds of the earth arrive with extraordinary acuity in regions even very high. In one of my aerostatic journeys, I noticed many dogs barking and locomotive whistles up to 3,000 meters in height. This is an observation that will be found in my aerial impressions. This is one of the differences that distinguishes a free balloon climb with ascents to high monuments, the Eiffel Tower and the great mountains.

At the end of 290 meters, one obviously receives the shock of a new impression, that of space, peace, silence. This sensation of greatness, pacification, and well-being, alone, largely pays for the trouble, easy indeed, of taking this exploration into the impenetrable expanse.

See also:

Symbolism of the Eiffel tower

Description of the Eiffel tower

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